Five Factors to Consider Before Changing Your Brand Name

iStock_000016534056MediumChanging a brand name can be a risky proposition, one that can interrupt sales as well as confuse current and prospective customers alike. A corporate name change is typically reserved for the following situations:

  • The brand reputation is damaged past the point of repair
  • The brand name is too similar to another that has a poor reputation, and customers are confusing the two
  • Legal reasons or requirements
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • A radical change in brand direction, focus or values (e.g. WalMart aiming to compete against Nieman Marcus)

If your situation does not align with any of the above, consider the following risks and consequences associated with changing the name of your company:

  1. Some of your existing, loyal customers and channel partners may assume a name change also comes with a change in personnel and values, which may in turn affect or end the relationships they’ve built with people at your company. This may be enough to motivate them to explore a relationship with your number one competitor. Remember that few people like change and may drift toward what is familiar because familiar is not only comfortable, but feels less risky.
  2. Prospective customers you have been courting over the last two, six or eighteen months will wonder why your name was changed, giving them a reason to reconsider and take a much closer look at familiar competitors.
  3. You will need to spend a significant investment of time and money educating your channel partners on why you changed your name and what it means to them and their buyers.
  4. If your company relies heavily on search, it will take some time for your new brand name to climb on search rankings.
  5. There is also the added expense of creating new stationery, brochures, trade show displays and signage.

In those situations where you believe your name may be dated or irrelevant, consider an internal and external brand assessment  to validate those beliefs. Often, the best maneuver may be to redefine your brand and make sure all employees are on board, fully understanding how your brand is unique and what it stands for.

If you have even a modest amount of brand equity and recognition, it will probably be worth the time and effort to stay your course and infuse your existing brand with new meaning and relevance.

Before making the decision to change your name, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.

If you’re thinking about changing the focus of your brand or your brand name, let’s talk.

scott@seroka.com